USB input on SGCD works maybe 50% of the time

I am having consistency issues with my SGCD. I have it hooked up to my Macbook Pro, through Roon. Whenever I start a listening session, I often have to:

  1. reboot the Mac
  2. restart the SGCD
  3. hard power cycle SGCD (pull the power cord for several seconds)

If I don’t do these, Roon doesn’t see the SGCD. Very frustrating.

NOTE: I keep the SGCD and my M700’s running all the time - they sound much better that way.

NOTE2: I was an early SGCD adopter, and found several remote issues. PS Audio sent me a ROM update (with some of my suggestions, like muting when the volume went to 0) – love you guys and your support!

Might want to check with PS Audio and see if the USB modules have been updated. I know Schiit has updated its USB several times.

Are you using any of the PS Power Plants? I use the Stellar Power Plant 3 with the SGCD and find that I have to shut down the Power Plant (effectively re-booting the SGCD) for it to be recognized by my mac mini on the next start up.

But that also seems to confirm that – using the Power Plant or not – the SGCD MUST be unplugged/replugged or master-switched-off-on to be seen.

This “seems” to be a recent phenomenon that I posted about a few days ago.

Could this be a coincidental result of the recent macOS Mojave 10.14.6 update? I dunno.

I have a very similar setup at my desk here except I’m on a PC. I’ll sometimes run into a weird behavior when I try to go back and forth between ROON and internet radio. The computer will still see the DAC, but Chrome will start acting a little funny, and won’t play anything with audio. Does the Mac still see the DAC as an output, and do you ever try playing through any other software?

I’ve tried form 2 macs and 1 PC - when the SGCD gets “lost”, it stays lost. And quickly power cycling it doesn’t seem to help. I’ll try a longer power cycle next.

Interesting, so it’s completely being lost. how long is the USB cable you’re using?

jamesh – I hadn’t been using any other software. Just iTunes.

However, I just opened Audirvana to see if THAT recognized the mac mini’s USB output.

Nope. Still have to reboot the SGCD. Then it’s fine. (FYI - I use a 1m AudioQuest Carbon USB cable.)

What bitrate settings do you use for USB? I had truckloads of trouble with anything over 24 bit, 192 kHz (DoP), which is good enough for any high res file you can buy online and DSD 128. So try to max the high res settings on your Mac to 24 bit 192 kHz.

I use iMac with BitPerfect.

Hope this helps.

The Stellar Gain Cell DAC (SGCD) utilises a of the shelf ESS Sabre chip. It handles both DSD and PCM for direct A/D conversion, but it requires to be set-up or reset for that, which the Stellar should handle. My Stellar Gin Cell DAC switches between PCM and DSD (USB DoP) not to bad, with the same problems you encounter. But I utilise BitPerfect not Roon.

I am not sure if the SGCD requires a control signal from the USB source or if the SGCD analyses the incoming information and detects what format it is (would be kind of difficult). But it seems to me that the SGCD does not receive a clear control signal or information allowing it to recognise the fie format. which seems to keep the SGCD in the software loo for file format recognition or something, which can only be exited by resetting the SGCD (power off and on again).

The only issues I have when switching to a different album or format is that the SGCD seems to not to empty the “digital lens” (information buffer allowing the SGCD to extract the information based on it’s own internal clock, reducing jitter) into a non signal path (trash) but into the DAC high causes short fractions of music being played. When the fractions are log enough you can recognise the music, when they are rather short it sounds like thumps, luckily in my case the fractions are long enough, not to come across as irritating thumps.

I ran firmware CPU and currently operate CPU (control chips) in the SGCD, perhaps you have another firmware version.

I have tried a 1m Audioquest and 3m cheep cables - same issues

My SGCD mutes every time I hit the enter button on my LG TV’s remote. So I just aim the remote away from the SGCD and directly at the IR of the TV. It can’t be fixed unless the whole circuit and lens of the remote is replaced.

It’s known issue but one I’ve learned to work around. The things we live with for kick ass sound quality (I call them the McIntosh Killers). I’ve had zero issues with the USB input with my PC direct Audioquest Forest cable to the SGCD. Played through the 2x M700’s, it’s awesome.

I believe in the KISS rule but I would like to get either a Matrix-2 or a Sonore USB to I2S HDMI interface box.

Ok, but what are the settings at the USB source?

So we can rule out cables being trouble. Does anything trigger this loss? Just simply time?

Just time. I’m restarting the SGCD every few days, and it’s helping

Restarted also stops the remote from “getting slow” after switching between many different kinds digital sample rates.

How can you switch sample rates with the Stellar remote? The Stellar analyses the data package it gets on it’s digital inputs and witches to the correct bit and sample rate and file format. If it doesn’t support the file format it either doesn’t play or starts acting strangely as your unit seems to do. I would seriously Read the PSA specs and or manual to make myself familiar with the supported file formats, bit and sample rates and verify that the USB source transmits those.

My Stellar dropped out because I selected DSD128 to be packed into 384 kHz signal over USB. Well it turns out that the best solution for DSD128 is the 192 kHz signal. Unfortunately I had to find out after reading the DoP principle and specs on the dCS web-site after googling on DAD128 and DoP. It appears there are caveats with USB Audio transmission that you need to make yourself familiar with.

The fact that my Stellar Gain Cell DAC firmware revision does not show file format information, bit rate and sample rate on the USB input makes it unfortunately not any easier. I complained about that, but since it is not a vital function and just a discomfort claim, PS Audio seem to have other things to do than to fix it. So I have studied the software and settings on the iMac and found out how to see the transmitted USB signal information there and now it works fine.

Hope that this helps. Otherwise, have you called PS Audio by phone for help?

I would not accept to have to reset a US$ 1700 piece of High End equipment every couple of days or weeks.

I have the same Issue on I2S and USB. With two different Players and Cables but only with DSD.
PCM works fine but with DSD i have clicks and rhythm noise bumping every time. Sometimes it
works for a Day but the next day I can´t get it to work also not with a restart this is very annoying.
The SGCD is on the Power Plant 3 and shut down every day.

Do you mind shooting our service team an email? I’m not familiar with any issue like this and I doubt cabling would change much.

Maybe it was all a ROON problem - now with 1.8 I can not connect to the SGCD

Update after a few months. Usually the Roon 1.7 to SGCD DAC worked, and when it didn’t, I restarted the PS Audio and it worked again. My SGCD worked with Roon for well over 2 years (ALAC, DSD, FLAC, WAV) - but now my recently updated to Roon 1.8 does not see the PS Audio SGCD.

I have now tried this on 2 machines:

  1. Macbook Pro (which it worked for 2 years) MacOS 10.13.6 - My Mac can see it as a Sound Output device, and my Mac can still play sound through it, but Roon 1.8 does not list it as a device. I even tried a license of Amarra Luxe that I own and it plays through the same Mac to the SGCD… but not with Roon 1.8. 1.8 simply doesn’t seem to see the PS Audio Stellar Gain Cell DAC through USB.
  2. Microsoft Surface Laptop with Windows 10 - also can not see the SGCD

Had someone help me on the FB Forum, and shared with me the SGCD is not a Roon certified device – yet it worked well for over 2 years…

And it doesn’t need to be a Roon certified device to work. Being certified by Roon just means that it can talk and play with Roon over the network. This doesn’t impact USB playback at all. If you’re able to output audio from Youtube or any other software on your computer, you’re able to output audio via Roon. I would double check your computer is able to see the GDAC in the first place.